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Canned food startup Heyday Canning Co is aiming to revive the canned food category as a sustainable and affordable protein source.
Heyday’s name is no accident. The canned food company was founded by operations expert Jamie Tulley and former Clif Bar and Sweet Earth marketing specialist, Kat Kavner, with a nod to the way things used to be done. The co-founders say the early stockpiling of the covid pandemic sparked the idea for the company and canned food for a “new generation.”
A covid baby
“Like everybody else, we were going to the grocery store and loading up on canned food, but the category seemed pretty staid and stagnant, and we had this lightbulb moment,” Kavner told Food Navigator-USA.
“Could we completely reimagine canned foods, starting with an unrelenting emphasis on flavor and quality and designing food that resonated with a new generation of young people?”
Canning is certainly not a new concept. It precedes refrigeration and was used for hundreds of years to preserve food, affording access to fruits and vegetables grown in warmer months during the rest of the year. Canning was typically done in glass mason jars, which have since gone on to Pinterest glory and gastropub chic drinking vessels. But the actual can—once made from tin—soon replaced most jars, making for easier distribution and increasing affordability.
Canned food experienced a resurgence during World War II. In the mid-1940s, there were an estimated 4.1 billion jars canned in homes and community canning centers. Canning, along with victory gardens, symbolized patriotism, and the canning wave lingered long after the war ended.
But little has changed for the category since, particularly as Whole Foods and its ilk put an emphasis on fresh food over the canned stuff.
But Heyday says it is putting a modern twist on the category. “The fundamental value proposition of canned food is really strong and it still feels relevant to a modern consumer. It’s convenient and affordable,” says Kavner.
The company is also emphasizing the food waste angle. “We waste so much fresh food as it’s difficult to plan when you’re going to use everything, so we want to appeal to a new generation of home cooks,” Kavner said.
Heyday’s current offerings are all bean-based. But these offerings aren’t just your typical beans suspended in liquid; they’re flavored and ready to eat right out of the can. The current roster includes six varieties: Harissa Lemon Chickpeas, Coconut Curry Chickpeas, Apricot Glazed Black Beans, Enchilada Black Beans, Tomato alla Vodka Cannellini Beans, and Kimchi Sesame Navy Beans.
Despite the affordability angle, the products stand out compared to conventional canned beans, which typically run about a dollar a can. The suggested retail price for Heyday is $4.99 a can following an introductory launch at Sprouts Markets at $3.99. But since canned food stays good indefinitely, consumers can stock up on the lower launch price and wait a few months to open those cans—just like they did back in canning’s heyday.
Lead photo courtesy of Heyday Canning Co.